We have a story in our heads or on our hearts. We want to write it, and yet we don’t. We don’t always know what’s stopping us. There is some invisible force that keeps us from realizing our dreams. It may masquerade as a lack of time or lack of a quiet space or even the right time in our lives. But, perhaps, all we lack is the courage to write.

As we’ve heard before, courage isn’t the lack of fear. It’s moving forward, step after step, despite the fear and uncertainty staring us in the face. With swirling winds and deep fog, we move from the comfort of the known into the darkness of the unknown. Can we finish? Will it be any good? What will people think? And finally, what will they say about me and the story I poured onto the page?

That’s a lot of fear pushing full-on against our hopes about what this story could be—about what we could be. And, it stops us like a dam holding back a raging river.

Recently, I spoke to a would-be writer at an event. He had a story he started but couldn’t seem to find the motivation to finish. I asked about the book, and he returned with excitement about the story. But as I asked more about it, it became apparent that “what’s next” weighed on him.

I asked why he was writing it. He reads lots of books and thought it would be fun to write one of his own. Then, the questions about publishing and marketing surfaced. How will he tell people about it with no social media, no email list, no website, and no real knowledge of the marketing landscape? He wanted to know if the time and money would be “worth it.” He jumped right from the joy of creativity to the uncertainty beyond.

We often worry so much about the future that we forget to cherish the moment we have right now. We’ll discount our current creative project for fear of not being good enough to see it through to some utopian end.

If you are writing or hoping to write a book, your decision is just whether or not you should write it. That’s it.

Once you are done writing it, your decision becomes whether to publish it. In your final days, will you regret publishing it or not publishing it? Your decision will be part of your legacy either way.

Once you’re done publishing it, you can decide whether to market it a little or a lot. You can run one ad for a week or build a healthy book launch team, invest your time in social media, build an email list, start a podcast, and write books for a living, or land somewhere in between. But you don’t have to decide that now.

When I asked the writer if he was hoping to make writing his career, he said no, even though he might consider writing another one or two books.

Finally, I asked if he NEEDED to market it. At first, he just looked at me. After a moment, his face changed. It hadn’t occurred to him that he could write and publish his book and call it a miraculous success. He didn’t need to choose between being a bestseller or being a failure. For him, writing and publishing was enough. It was like Atlas had lifted a boulder from his back. And now, all he had to carry was his proverbial pen.

You have no obligation to do any of it—the writing, publishing, or marketing. But if something nags at you, the pull to embark on an amazing journey, you just need to start. Start with the courage to write.

 

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